Tuesday, October 29, 2013

gone too soon

Last Thursday I celebrated 22 years with my husband. On that same afternoon a friend lost hers in a light plane crash.

Devastating. A word I've thought, said, typed more often since then I probably ever have. 

I've been struggling so much with this one. We don’t know them that well, but the time we've spent with them my husband and I felt such a connection, a meeting of like-minded souls which has become very rare as we've gotten older. I know they felt it too.
If we’d lived closer I've no doubt we would be close friends. When we have seen each it’s always been warm and empathetic. We laugh at the same things.

They have two young children. We have two young children. The horror of having to guide your children through the loss of a parent as you suffer your own inconsolable grief is terrifying.

They were soul mates. We are soul mates. We both think they were one of very few couples we've met whose relationship seemed to operate similar to ours. They were partners. We are partners. They loved each other dearly. We love each other dearly. The reality that such a treasured person can be taken from you is sobering and horrific.


And also, what the actual FUCK?

I will never understand how a man – a warm, compassionate, loved, positive, energetic man, a father and a husband – gets whipped away on a sunny afternoon while hundreds of wife-beating, double-crossing scum live long into old age.

If I was religious I could put it down to ‘God’s plan’, which I should not question, just ‘trust’. This may be why I’m not religious.

But I am spiritual (it’s possible, really it is), and I have been thinking a lot these last few days about destiny and fate.
Was it always his destiny, while building a life, a marriage, fathering and parenting two children, making plans, hoping, dreaming, that he would leave it all too soon, too soon for anyone?
Was it always her fate to be a young widow?

And while I’m at it, was it coincidence that two of their dearest friends were planning to visit them this last weekend, so that they were the first to arrive after she got the news? There to guide her through that first surreal, unimaginable 48 hours?

I don’t know the answers to any of this. All I know is there is a patch on my heart rubbed raw for her, for her children. My tears are but a drop in the ocean of their grief.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

happy birthday grand dad!

7 years ago today my Dad turned 60.

My parents invited all their friends and family to join us for a big lamb braai at a public picnic spot in a Nature Reserve near their home.
It was one of those very wonderful collaborative events, lots of people making salads and breads and desserts and some dear friends of my parents driving through from the Karoo with two sheep's worth of cutlets to feed the crowd.

My husband and brothers were on braai duty, and we hired in plates, glasses, big dishes for the meat, we placed an order for a ton of wood, arranged pop-up gazebos and chairs, made sure everyone had directions etc.

The evening before I was round at my Mum's helping prep salads with some friends. We chopped and diced and cling-wrapped, endlessly rearranging the fridge to fit it all in.

Quite early on I was flagging, suddenly exhausted and barely able to stand. So much so that Mum was concerned for me driving home. But I had a cup of tea, felt stronger and left, staggering into bed as soon as I got there.

The next day was beautiful and very warm. We all worked hard, cooking and arranging and hosting and feeding and chatting and laughing and celebrating my dear Dad and how precious he is to us all.

That evening, weary and happy, back at my parents place, we divided up the remaining uncooked meat into manageable portions to freeze.
The sight of all that raw meat suddenly became too much for me - the blood and the smell and the very rawness of it all. I was overcome with queasiness and had to leave the kitchen to lie down for a bit.

That week I found out I was, of course, pregnant.

And so every year since as we celebrate my Dad's birthday, always with the non-negotiable lemon meringue pie, and the bottle of good brandy and the family gathering to mark the occasion - I also mark the moment as the beginning of my parenthood.
The very first time I had to adjust my pace to meet the demands of a small person, the first family gathering she shared with us.

I love this gentle overlap, the dual celebration I've observed since then. I love that my Dad and Frieda's celestial paths crossed somehow, in some small funny way.

It was his 60th birthday and the beginning of his Grandfatherdom. Today it's his 67th and what an absolutely wonderful Grandfather he is.
Happy birthday Dad.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Sometimes I love Pinterest for reasons not even Pinterest could have predicted ...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I'd call it 'subtweet' but the person I'm referring to isn't reading.

Man sits down at a bar. Small voice says, 'Nice shirt.'
Man looks around confused, catches the barman's eye who indicates with his head, 'It's the nuts,' he says, 'They're complimentary.'

Drum roll ...

The ability to take a compliment has become one of my measures of a person. The manner in which one receives a reasonable compliment speaks to your confidence, how comfortable you are in your skin or your stage of life - take it well and you're my kind of person.

I'm no gusher. If I tell you I like your laugh, your house, your hair or your mind, if I compliment your kids, your style, your ass or your driving skills, I'm being really sincere.

So it bugs me when people - adults - are too self-deprecating to take a compliment. Specifically people who have beautiful homes, good jobs, healthy families and the wherewithal to serve bloody good champagne.
I know that everyone has shit, I know that seemingly perfect lives can be deeply flawed, I know that people are not always who they seem.
But acknowledge your privilege. Count your blessings. Have the grace to take a good compliment on the chin.

Your hair looks amazing!